Hyundai Santa Fe improves small overlap rating, earns Top Safety Pick+

August 4, 2016

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe qualifies for the top award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety following improvements made to boost protection in a small overlap front crash. The midsize SUV also has a new, optional front crash prevention system that earns a superior rating.

The three-row Santa Fe, a distinct model from the two-row Santa Fe Sport, previously earned a marginal rating in the Institute's small overlap test. The 2017 model earns a good rating. Introduced in 2012, the small overlap front test replicates what happens when the front, driver-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole.

The earlier version of the Santa Fe had extensive structural damage to the driver's space, with intrusion measuring as much as 10 inches at the lower door hinge pillar. The dummy's head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side, as the steering column moved 5 inches to the right.

Hyundai reinforced the occupant compartment beginning with the 2017 model year. After production began, the driver safety belt was modified to further improve small overlap protection. Maximum intrusion was 4 inches at the lower door hinge pillar, and the safety belt and airbags worked well to control the dummy's movement. The good rating applies to 2017 Santa Fes built after March, when the safety belt was changed.

The Santa Fe also has good ratings in the Institute's moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.

The new model's optional front crash prevention system achieves the highest rating of superior. When equipped with the system, the Santa Fe avoided collisions in 12 mph and 25 mph track tests. The system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

The front crash prevention system is part of a technology package that also includes curve-adaptive, high-intensity discharge headlights that earn a good rating in IIHS headlight evaluations. The low beams provide good or fair visibility on most approaches and don't create excessive glare for oncoming drivers. The high beams provide mostly good visibility. The package also includes high beam assist, a feature that automatically switches between high beams and low beams, depending on the presence of other vehicles.

Without the technology package, the Santa Fe comes with halogen headlights that earn a poor rating.

Currently, to qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must have good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. For 2017, a good or acceptable headlight system also will be required.

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